The small balcony of our motel in Port Angeles afforded me a fine view. Sitting there, I enjoyed spectacular sunsets, a wide range of shore birds, and the ferries coming in and leaving from Victoria across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. There was also human activity in the form of a steady stream of individuals and families walking, jogging and biking on theOlympic Discovery Trail which passed a mere 40 feet from my perch.
One morning while I was enjoying my coffee and waiting to take my turn at grand parenting duty, I noticed a well-dressed gentleman biking very slowly from the west on a commuter bike that seemed much too small for his long arms and legs. What initially caught my attention was his biking style. He was moving extremely slowly. So slowly, in fact, that he was struggling to stay on the bike, forced to weave back and forth to maintain his balance. As he came closer, I realized his eyes were trained intently on asmartphone in his fully outstretched right arm. He appeared to be texting. Not smart, I thought. An accident just waiting for an opportunity.
And then I saw her approaching from the east, decked out in flashy red, yellow and orange Lycra biking garb and riding a high end racing machine. But not racing. She, too, was moving at a reluctant toddler’s pace, and so intent on the smartphone held in her outstretched hand that she seemed oblivious to her surroundings.
Mesmerized by the unfolding accident, I watched in awed silence as their weaving paths finally intersected. In slow motion they arrived and in slow motion they fell, arms still outstretched until the moment of contact. Bizarre as the collision was, the next seconds were stranger yet. Both riders scrambled to their feet and immediately began scanning the ground around them, without a word or glance toward each other. Only after retrieving their smartphones and verifying that they still functioned did either rider look up, acknowledge each other, and apologize. After assurances of well-being were exchanged, they remounted their bikes and rode off, arms outstretched and attention focused on their phones.
Learning had NOT occurred.